Facebook’s wrist watch will use nerve signals to control AR device

Research prototype of Facebook's wristband.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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From detecting hate speech to targeted advertising on its platform, Facebook uses artificial intelligence (AI). Now, the company says it is developing a new augmented reality (AR) glasses which will take wrist-based input combined with AI.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced at the Facebook Reality Labs event in September last year that it would launch a pair of smart glasses in 2021. The AR-powered product would be curated in multi-year partnership with luxury eyewear RayBan’s parent firm Luxottica.

The wrist band will be connected to the user’s AR glasses. It will use electromyography (EMG), a technique that uses sensors to translate electrical motor nerve signals that travel through the wrist to the hand into digital commands. These commands can then be used to control the functions of a device, Facebook explained in a statement.

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These signals will make users communicate with the device, and will include customisable and adaptable actions. Facebook says the signals through the wrist are so clear that EMG can understand finger motion of just a millimetre, meaning that it may even be possible to sense the intention of moving a finger.

Using nerve signals to control actions has already been tried and tested by other companies. A patent filed by Apple in June last year revealed the company is looking at detecting hand gestures by monitoring veins within the wrist of the user to determine how the hand itself is moving, according to AppleInsider.

But the concept is far from mind reading, Facebook clarified. Just like you would take several photos and choose to share only few, you may have many thoughts but will choose to act on only some of them. At this point, your brain sends signals to your hands and fingers telling them to move in specific ways to perform actions like typing and swiping. “This is about decoding those signals at the wrist - the actions you’ve already decided to perform - and translating them into digital commands for your device,” the company added.

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In AR, the wrist inputs will help users touch and move virtual objects and be able to control them at a distance.

The California-based company did not provide details on when the product will be launched, but said that it is a “nearer-term” development. Later this year, it will address details of soft robotics, all-day wearable devices, and haptic gloves, Facebook stated.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 6:19:54 PM |

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